One of the things I'm planning on doing here at The Diamond in the Window is offering up some books for parents. Now, it's all a bit hazy in my brain as yet, so some of this may change, but here's what I'm thinking: it's not going to be great novels and that sort of thing. Because, well, I just don't think it will.
It will be books that have some sort of relationship either to parenting or to kid reading or to, I don't know, whatever I feel like, basically.
First I must note my long and storied history with parenting books (and my conflicted feelings about advice books of any stripe).
When I first had children, lo these many years ago, I bought some books. And I was given others. And others somehow found their way into my house. Until I had a fairly healthy stack (about 10?) of books that purported to tell me what the hell was happening with my baby, why, and how to stop it.
Now, part of the problem of having a baby when you're over 30, I think, is that you have some vague sense of the world as a somewhat rational place where, if things suck a lot, you can sort of fix them, or leave, or alter the situation somehow so you're a bit less miserable. At least, sort of.
But, as many of you no doubt know, this doesn't work with babies. Which is why they're so wonderful/horrible. And so, when they're first born, and they scream and scream and scream and scream (if they're like my babies), you naturally go look in a book to see what is wrong and how you might fix it.
I looked in a lot of books.
As is my nature, I got maybe a little too invested in what the books were saying. Which is odd, because nothing they ever said helped at all. Except maybe the part in Dr. Spock about not throwing the baby out the window. Even so, I used to pore over those books, looking and looking for something that might tell me what the hell had gone wrong and what the hell was I supposed to do about it. For years. Years.
Until the day when I was reading something in Dr. Sears's book about how maybe I wasn't meeting my baby's needs, and that's why it was screaming and screaming and screaming (I believe this was the second baby) and I was, very calmly and logically as far as I remember, discussing with my husband the ways in which I might be failing to meet the needs of the caterwauling maniac in my lap. And then he took the book away, put it on top of the stack of all the parenting books, and took it out of the house and put it on the sidewalk. Then he came in and said, "They're horrible. They're stupid. They make you think you're doing the wrong thing all the time. They Are Not Helping. I've gotten rid of them" And then he went outside again, and took all the books up off the sidewalk and dumped them in the recycling bin and came back inside. "I didn't want some poor pregnant person to pick them up and be tortured by them either." And I said, "Wow." And then, (it may have been sometime later) I said, "You have freed me from their torturing shackles," (or something along those lines) and we lived happily ever after.
So what I mean is, the books I feature here are NOT going to be books like those, to the best of my ability. But I will feature some. So look out.
15 thoughts on “Behold, the Future Is Ours”
*Laughing* Hold on. *Wiping eyes* Okay. Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Years. I totally hear you. Although…there was that one that made me feel somewhat sane, what was it? Girlfriend’s guide… I think. That one was good, otherwise. Yes. NOT HELPING. Especially Dr. Sears. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. 🙂
My theory is that we seek out and “like” the parenting books that most closely resonate with our instincts. And each of us has different instincts.
My nightmare books were the What to Expect ones because my first child was severely disabled and I finally had to literally throw the book down the garbage chute in my apartment building.
Oh, I have such a love-hate relationship with those books. I hate them because of everything you must said, but I love them, because my oldest absolutely refused to sleep and one of them taught me how to make her sleep. Without benadryl or bourbon, to which I was very, very close to resorting.
The only one I liked was a health related one where I could look up symptoms/diseases to figure out what to do (e.g. go to doctor or give Tylenol).
Ha ha. Maybe you told that story on Moxie once, I think I remember it, it made me laugh then and it does now, too (also, it makes me love your husband even though it is the only thing I know about him).
The only book I ever paid attention to was “The Wonder Weeks” and as a result my son’s sleep was a mess for 18 months because I kept on blaming issues on developmental sleep disruptions instead of trying to set a better schedule and train him. So I am very much on the same page as you… so to speak. Mostly I think one’s instincts more than suffice, and babies like to be held and snuggled a lot, the end.
Still I am also susceptible to parenting books, even after all that. I don’t buy them but they still fascinate me. So “look out” is the perfect phrase–a little apprehension, a little intrigue!
Wow, throwing it down the garbage chute sounds exactly right. I salute you, Elizabeth.
Oh yes, been there, done that. There was one book that changed our lives, though, but I always recommend it to people with one caveat: “As with all parenting advice, take what works for you and your family, and disregard the rest.” So really, I guess I was saying — chunk it down the chute, unless you like it, then cool.
I’ve moved on from the baby parenting books to the “how to raise a decent kid,” type of books. One book was recommended to me by a mom who has four children spaced really far apart, the oldest is like 27 and the youngest now 8 or so. Anyway, the second-oldest sort of got into drugs or something and she thought, “where did I go wrong? I still have to raise these other two!!” So, there are a couple of books she recommended, which I have actually found great. If you’re looking for titles, let us all know. I don’t want to infringe on your recommendations!!
I am addicted to parenting books, but I take them with a large grain of salt. When they indicate that I am doing the “right thing” I say to myself “how lovely” and when they suggest that only a bad mom would do whatever it is I do, then I roll my eyes.
I tried to a tweet about this, but suspect that in my technical inexpertise I failed. So here are my suggestions:
Little Dreams Come True by Linda Anderson Krech
This tiny book with the sappy title, helped me to remember to (try to) stay calm when dealing with a very young child.
Connection Parenting by Pam Leo
This is another book about staying calm (do you sense a trend here)? Kind of new ageish.
I love The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
Hey we are already reading to our children, read this book if you haven’t already and then give yourself a pat on the back.
The Heart of a Family: Searching America for Traditions that Fulfil Us by Meg Cox
Sadly out of print, although the smaller more condensed self helpish version of the book is in print and it is good, but much has been edited out. The in print version is called The Book of New Family Traditions.
This book was great! I wanted to create some fun family traditions to use with my daughter and since reading that book:
We hide her birthday presents and leave a trail of clues (Pictures of furniture in the preliterate days) showing where to look for the next clue.
I was also inspired to make a curtain of ribbons to hang in the doorway of her room on the night before her birthday, while she is sleeping.
And the day before the first day of school she makes a cone out of an old file folder or similar cardboard and decorates it, then we punch two holes near the top and run a ribbon through it so it looks like a birthday party hat. She hangs it on her doorknob and the next morning there is candy, and pencils, easers, etc in it for the first day of school. This is apparently a custom in Germany.
Actually Spock has a great section where he gives you a list of things to try when the baby is fussy, but then says, more or less, “You often can’t tell why a baby is fussy but you can run through these things in sequence and even if none of them works, maybe the baby will stop fussing and anyway it will give you something to do.” Trying stuff does make you feel better, I thought anyway.
I might have just fallen in love with your husband.
I did just read NurtureShock and am still thinking about it but not a sharp enough critical thinker to say anything other than it is really interesting and that I’ve assigned the chapter on lying to my husband.
Looking forward to the suggestions!
I threw mine out after the first week…but have since picked some back up as we have hit the middle school years.
Even though some of the advice in these books might be useful, there’s always something in them that makes me brood and worry that I’m not doing it right. Yay to trusting one’s own instincts when it comes to child rearing, and yay to your husband’s decisive action!
Yes, I am definitely one of those people who assumes that if things aren’t going well, it’s because I’m holding the directions upside down or something; clearly there’s an answer, and I just haven’t found it yet. Witness my shelves of parenting books. But oh, they are a slippery slope. Some are very helpful, but only sometimes, and others are just scary, and sometimes they tell you just what you need to hear on that one day that it’s going to work.
I do really like the idea of some “raising great kids” books, like the Read-Aloud handbook someone mentioned, good practical ideas. Or what about the Dangerous Book for Boys and Daring Book for Girls? Thoughts on how/when/whether to read those with kids? Those kinds of questions. Looking forward to it!
I am with you on the parenting books and having babies to which they don’t apply. I like to recommend a book to new mothers (ones whose experiences are more like mine) that is not a parenting book—–it’s just a book about a new parent. It’s the only book that helped me when my babies were screaming and screaming and screaming and not sleeping months and many more months after everyone else’s new babies were sleeping like champs:
Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. You probably know it, but in case not, it’s a memoir about the first year of her son’s life, and it’s hysterical and dark and totally crazy. It made me feel I was not alone.
Yes, a really useful book, in terms of not going crazy. Diana pretty much ate ours.